Community Economic Development Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Community Economic Development Facilitators will serve in rural communities and address the need for improved economic and livelihood opportunities in their communities. Specifically, Volunteers will work with their Timorese counterparts or community members to (1) improve the economic security of individuals in the community and (2) improve an organization’s ability to operate effectively.

Community Economic Development Facilitators' work partners may be cooperatives; farmers, youth, or women’s groups; micro-lending groups; local non-governmental organizations; local government offices; municipality administration; or community based organizations. Volunteers will train and advise the groups in business planning, strategic planning, marketing, financial management, product design, project design and management, organizational development, and quality and consistency. Volunteers will also teach individuals in their assigned organization and the broader community how to manage income and expenses, leading to greater household stability and capacity in entrepreneurship, computers, and employability, including English language skills.

As a post-conflict country with poor infrastructure and public systems, most people have not been exposed to effective systems, so they may lack the vision on how to effectively manage their organization or group. They have not had opportunities to learn or develop management skills. In general the leadership style in many local organizations is traditional and hierarchical with the influence of a patriarchal culture in most parts of Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste is facing a huge unskilled youth bubble with nearly 70% of the population under the age of 25. Many young people are neither in school nor working. Consequently, Volunteers are encouraged to look for ways to engage youth to build and apply entrepreneurial skills and/or employability skills when working with their assigned organizations and communities.

Volunteers’ work is centered around:
1. Conducting community and / or organization needs assessments
2. Building community member (especially youth) and / or staff capacity in areas such as English, computers, planning, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, employability, and networking
3. Training and / or advising on project planning, design and management
4. Building community and organizational capacity to apply and utilize tools and systems for strategic planning
5. Training and coaching community members or groups in managing a business

It is very common for Volunteers to be asked to teach English by staff, community leaders, school principals, youth groups, or community organizations. English is considered a significant employability skill and staff capacity skill in Timor-Leste and, hence, Community Economic Development Facilitators should expect to teach English or facilitate English language clubs. Teaching English also is an opportunity to establish a relationship and then build trust. English classes or soccer games can be good ways to get to know people and what they do. At the same time, it can also be capitalized on as an opportunity to combine other Community Economic Development related activities, such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and personal money management trainings.

Timor-Leste is a young and vibrant democracy. Volunteers will have a rare opportunity to be working among the nation’s heroes and freedom fighters that are still active in leading the nation. Most communities have experience with development projects sponsored by large international donor organizations, yet they are seeking a different kind of partnership with the Peace Corps. Community members expect Peace Corps Volunteers to speak the local language, respect and value the Timorese culture, and find ways to transfer skills. They appreciate when Volunteers work to create change through education, role modeling, demonstration, inspiration, and motivation.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years' professional experience in business management
• Commitment to community economic development that could involve working with individuals, communities or organizations and commitment to serving a community at their pace, level and according to the community’s priorities
• Ability to adapt to hierarchical and patriarchal culture
• Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity to characteristics of post-conflict populations

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Volunteers will learn the country’s official language, Tetun, during Pre-Service Training and must demonstrate intermediate proficiency after 9-10 weeks of training. Many Volunteers will also learn a local language or dialect spoken in their district.

Since Portuguese is the National language and many words have been incorporated into Tetun, Portuguese and Spanish speakers will find that helpful in Timor-Leste. Many Timorese also speak Bahasa Indonesian and Volunteers will be taught some of the common words that are used by Timorese.

Living Conditions

Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season. You may have to walk or cycle as much as one hour over rugged terrain to the main road to catch public transportation, such as a small truck or mini-bus, to a larger city. In addition, there has been a growth in road construction throughout the country so travel can be affected by this.

Amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone reception will vary from site to site. There may be periods of time without electricity. Cell phone coverage is improving but there are still some areas without coverage. Internet connectivity is slow and expensive, although most Volunteers can access internet at least once a week. Accessing internet through data usage is very common in the districts. Some Volunteers have more than one SIM card from different providers to take advantage of different data packages and offerings.

Volunteers are required to live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and another host family at their permanent site during their full two years of service. Building relationships starts from the host family during training and then continues at the permanent site. Host families in Timor-Leste are large and multi-generational, including many children. It is common for many members of the host family to smoke cigarettes.

Volunteers may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals on public transportation and in the capital city of Dili.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Timor-Leste: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Timor-Leste can accommodate couples serving together in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

English Teacher and Teacher Trainer

Couples should be prepared to live apart during Pre-Service Training. Once the couple moves to their site, they will live with a host family for their full two years of service. This means you may not have as much privacy as you are accustomed to.

Couples serving in Timor-Leste get pressure to adhere to more traditional gender roles. They are likely to be asked about how many kids they have and may experience pressure to have children if they do not have any. However, in general, couples have done well and are happy serving as a couple in Timor-Leste.

In Timor-Leste, couples are married by the church or simply by parents mutually agreeing that their adult children are married.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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